Please welcome today’s guest contributor, Rebecca!
We count on schools and teachers to educate our children. In most cases, this is fine and even to be expected. Schools are supposed to teach our kids how to read, how to do math and as much as possible about science, history, etc. Sometimes, though, parents count too much on schools. They expect teachers to teach a child everything there is to know about life and forget that the most important teacher a child ever has is his or her parents.
Teachers are great and noble people. They are to be celebrated and honored. They are not supposed to take the place of parents, especially when it comes to very sensitive and personal subjects.
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Drug Use and Addiction
Almost everybody reading this probably remembers participating in the D.A.R.E program when they were in school. Formally called The Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program, D.A.R.E is a program designed to teach kids how to say no to drugs, stay out of gangs and resist the peer pressure often involved in those situations. Educators and law enforcement alike have been singing the praises of D.A.R.E for decades but the program is not actually all that effective(1).
There are a lot of reasons for this, but among them is the reality that many parents count on D.A.R.E to have all of the important conversations about drugs, gangs, peer pressure, etc that they should be having with their kids.
Here’s the truth: your kids are going to learn from your example about how to approach drugs, alcohol, etc. If illicit substances are abused at home, the chances that your kids will eventually deal with addictions of their own raises considerably (2).
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Sexual Health and Education
There is a growing trend in schools of teaching “abstinence only” in health education classes. This might jive with your personal and family’s belief system but here is the truth. “Abstinence only” is not an effective way to keep kids from exploring their sexuality alone or with each other. In fact, schools that insist on teaching “abstinence only” and refrain from teaching kids about safe sex, pregnancy prevention, etc report higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy and other issues (3).
Nobody is going to try to tell you that talking to your kids about sex is going to ever be a comfortable conversation. But if you leave those conversations up to health class lectures and teachers–especially if your kids’ school is an “abstinence only” school–you set your kids up to be uncomfortable with the subject as well. This means that they will not just be more likely to hide their activities from you but that they won’t feel comfortable coming to you when they have questions or concerns.
Think about it for a second: who do you want answering your kids’ questions about their bodies (and their thoughts about their bodies)? A teacher? A friend who might be even less informed than your own kids? Or, worse still, the internet? Or would you rather get used to feeling uncomfortable so that your kids can feel comfortable talking to you about their questions, etc?
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Spirituality, Politics, Money
Parents are relying more and more on schools to be the place where their kids are taught about a variety of “values,” particularly as they pertain to spirituality, the political system and how money should (or should not) be spent. These are intensely personal subjects and, with peer pressure being what it is, do you really want your kids to feel pressured to conform to a belief system that you may or may not subscribe to, yourself?
On the flip side of this coin, where certain groups are proving to have sway over textbook content and classroom protocols, it is incredibly important to talk to your kids about sensitive subjects at home–especially if you don’t agree with the direction the curriculum has taken (4). Having a safe place to disagree and to ask questions about what they are being taught is important.
It all boils down to this: who do you want your kids to turn to when they have problems or questions? More importantly, what lessons do you really want your kids to be taught about life outside of a textbook or school environment? If you leave everything up to the schools, can you really be surprised if you don’t really know what goes on in your child’s life?
Talk to your kids! Remember: you are their most important teachers and strongest examples of how to live (5).
- The Impact of Education on Addiction, Michaelshouse.com, http://www.michaelshouse.com/drug-addiction/impact-education-addiction/
- Children of Addicted Parents, Pa-Fsa.org, http://www.pa-fsa.org/assets/children_of_addicted_parents.pdf
- Abstinence-Only Education and Teen Pregnancy Rates: Why We Need Comprehensive Sex Education in the U.S, Kathrin F. Stanger-Hall, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3194801/
- Evolution Vs. Creationism: Study Reveals Public School Science Lagging, Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/31/evolution-vs-creationism-_n_815664.html
- 7 Back-to-School Strategies to Help You Stress Less and Simplify Your Life, Sophistishe.com, http://iriemade.com/back-to-school-simplify-life-stress/